Wearables Week in Review

Report Type: 
Week In Review

Let the sun shine in

Garmin is adding solar panels to some of its most popular lines of watches, such as the Fenix 6, Instinct and the Tactix Delta, Garmin’s military-grade watch. The solar models (look for an “S” appended to the name, such as Fenix 6S) are promising an extra day and a half to two days of battery life “with sufficient solar exposure” which will be very useful for consumers that are more outward bound focused. And, as is fitting for new models with solar, the devices come with additional outdoor tracking, such as surfing and mountain biking, as well as a new Acclimation Widget that tracks your current elevation and compares it to your pulse oxygenation (useful for the mountain climbers among you)

The NPD Take:

  • The greatest weakness of any smartwatch is typically its battery life. Garmin has always done far better than average – the Fenix 6 promises nine days as standard – but every little bit helps
  • Frankly, it’s a surprise that it has taken quite so long for smartwatches to have solar added to them. These are devices that are often used outside, so harnessing the sun to eke out a little more battery life is a no brainer.

A (Magic) Leap of faith

Magic Leap, the struggling mixed reality headset company, has a new CEO. Peggy Johnson, Microsoft’s EVP of business development is taking over from founder Roby Abovitz, who is stepping down from the CEO role. The company was reportedly set to layoff about half its workforce earlier this year, before getting a lifeline of $350 million in funding in May apparently (although the NY Times reported that about 600 people were still let go). The goal for the company appears to be a pivot into the enterprise space rather than consumers (there are reports that the company only sold 6,000 units in its first six months of sales) and Johnson’s background seems well suited to that pivot.

The NPD Take:

  • Magic Leap’s future is far from certain and it’s hardly the first company to switch from a consumer to enterprise focus of mixed-reality/VR headsets (HTC did the same thing a few years ago). Yes, Peggy Johnson brings a lot of credibility to the table (Microsoft and before that Qualcomm), but it’s still a long road ahead.
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